All That Downtown Jazz

New York’s downtown jazz scene is a cauldron of talent, attracting promising new acts and big name headliners from all over the world. Here, The Roxy Hotel curates some of the most popular jazz institutions below 14th Street.

Village Vanguard | The Roxy Hotel

Village Vanguard

From 1935 until his death in 1989, Max Gordon ran the nearly 80 year old Village Vanguard, one of the city’s most colorful jazz spots. Over the decades, hundreds of jazz musicians, spanning a number of generations and aesthetic viewpoints, converged here to blow their brass horns and wail their melodies. Today, bands typically sit in residence here for six nights in a row, developing their in-house sound. 178 Seventh Avenue South, between Perry and West 11th Streets; 212-255-4037;

Smalls Jazz CLub | The Roxy Hotel

Smalls Jazz Club

 Former Navy submariner, Mitchell Borden opened Smalls Jazz Club in 1994. A jazz violinist himself, Borden wanted to carve out a space in lower Manhattan where jazz music and jazz culture could blossom. Some proceeds of the small 60 seat venue, with its low ceilings and close quarters, support struggling and emerging musicians with gestures ranging from direct financial aid to settlement visa assistance. 183 West 10th Street, between Seventh Avenue and West 4th Street; 212-252-5091;

Blue Note | The Roxy Hotel

Blue Note

 Greenwich Village’s Blue Note is sometimes thought of as chain restaurant with a jazz theme (there are outposts in Milan, Beijing, Hawaii, Tokyo and Nagoya too). But that doesn’t seem to be the case in New York, where a rush of patrons is ready to partake as soon as the club’s doors open at 6 pm. Shows also seem to garner a healthy crowd that drops in to hear music and grab a quick snack, or sit down for a full night of dinner and drinks. 131 West 3rd Street, between MacDougal Street and Sixth Avenue; 212-475-8592;

B Flat | The Roxy Hotel

Bar B Flat

 Those looking for a more upmarket jazz venue, replete with fancy cocktails and nibbles, should check out Bar B Flat on Church Street. There is live jazz here multiple days a week, and happy hour falls just before the opening act between 5-7pm. The music is good, with a menu serving everything from Japanese fare to Moroccan-style lamb chops. 277 Church Street, between White and Franklin Streets; 212-219-2970;

Zinc Bar | The Roxy Hotel

Zinc Bar

All flavors of jazz seem to be represented at Zinc Bar, from funk and fusion to New Orleans and orchestral jazz. Performers hail from Morocco, Greece, Cuba and beyond, making this venue one of the most internationally diverse jazz spots in the city. 82 West 3rd Street, between Thompson and Sullivan Streets; 212-477-9462;

The Django | The Roxy Hotel

The Roxy Hotel

We’ll round out our Top 5 with the newest member of the downtown jazz scene – The Roxy Lounge and The Django! Both feature live jazz Wednesday through Saturday, plus jazz brunch every Sunday from 11am – 4pm. Programmed by Brian Newman, the eclectic act lineup includes musicians like Jon Regen, Bill Dobrow, Chris Norton, and more. Visit our events page for more information.

Word by Rocky Casale